My time in Edmonton, Alberta attending the 2010 Canadian Library Association conference was well spent and well worth it. I learned a great deal on many different topics, professional and technological. It was also a pleasure to see some friends from my information and library science program who have taken jobs all across Canada. On a less hopeful note, I was troubled to learn about the extent of CLA’s financial crisis and the reality that the organization may be bankrupt in eighteen months without some dramatic changes. Most of the discussion on the conference on that topic seemed focused on describing the problem rather than considering possible solutions, but one has to start somewhere.
My presentation on net neutrality and what it means for libraries was Saturday morning and I’m happy to report that it was a success. There was around fifty people in attendance and plenty of interesting questions and comments, which I find particularly rewarding as a presenter. My point that Canadian libraries and librarians have thus far dedicated little advocacy attention to net neutrality was also well received. Given how many challenges face our society, it is difficult to know which problems we should focus our energy on as information professionals. My argument for focusing more advocay energy on Internet issues rests on three points: 1) the Internet as service delivery mechanism (e.g. I work as a Reference Librarian for the AskON service, a project of Knowledge Ontario which won an award for innovative use of technology!), 2) provide access to collections and 3) act as a community Internet service provider (a point that should especially resonate with those in the public library world).
I had the opportunity to attend several sessions on new technologies and I’ll share some of what I learned on that front. The Boopsie company produced a web based application for the conference itself and they have made similar applications for universities, conferences and libraries across the world. As a user, my view is that such web apps represent an improvement from viewing a plain website on a smart phone but they are still nowhere near as useful and interesting to use as a “native application” (e.g. one that one might obtain through the Apple App Store). The big advantage for such web based apps is that they can be developed very quickly – in one to weeks where as a native application can easily take months of design effort. Though I didn’t have a chance to attend, there was also some interesting presentations made on making technology more accessible for those with disabilities. As the 2005 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act makes its presence felt in Canada’s largest province, serving the needs of disabled users will become more and more important.
I also managed to find a few other blog posts about the CLA 2010 conference that might be of interest to readers:
- Misadventures at CLA Day One & Misadventures at CLA Day Two by Jason Hammond
- CLA 2010 by Meghan Ecclestone
- Canadian Library Conference 2010 – #cla2010 by the Curling Librarian
- Mobile: Boopsie Releases WebApp for Canadian Librarian Association 2010 Annual Conference from the Resource Shelf